Day 1 of the 2012 European Junior Championships in Antwerp, Belgium kicked off Wednesday with a focus on distance events.
This meet is separated into two age divisions: 15-16 and 17-18, based strictly on birth year (so 96-97 for the younger group, 94-95 for the older).
The best swim of the first day of competition (out of 5 total) was Italy’s Gabrielle Detti in the 17-18 men’s 400 free. There, he won by a solid margin in 3:49.67. That time is a bit slower than he was at the Sette Colli Trophy about a month ago, but once-again he nailed a negative-split strategy. He was out in 1:55.0 and came home in 1:54.6. Aside from the European Championships, he has now negative-split this event in his other three major finals this year – here, Sette Colli, and March’s Italian Championships. And it’s not negative-splitting because his front-half is slow; quite the contrary as he was in fact he was right in the lead-pack as he hit that turn and started to descend. He’s probably not ever going to negative-split and win an Olympic medal, but as he ages and can get even more front-end speed, he’s got a bright future.
Great Britain’s 17-year old Matthew Johnson swam a 3:51.04 for 2nd – that’s a best time for him by three seconds. The Brits led the total medal count on the first day of competition; despite not winning a single event, they scored three silvers and two bronze medals in 6 events.
Russia’s Julia Larina had a huge best-time to begin her meet, with a four-second drop to swim a 4:44.70 in the women’s 15-16 400 IM. Though she’s only 16, that moves her within a second of the Russian 18 & under Junior Record that has stood amazingly since 1984 at a 4:43.7. That swim, by the Soviet Union’s Yelena Dendeberova was done when she was only 14, though she wasn’t able to clear it again before her 18th birthday.
The next great Spanish distance swimmer also emerged on the first day of competition in Maria Vilas Vidal, who placed 2nd in that same 400 IM in 4:45.48. She then would come back later in the session and win gold in the 15-16 800 free with a 8:42.41. That’s not quite-as-impressive of a mark as the 400 IM, but still a pair of best times in two of the most taxing events in the sport, in one day.
In the day’s only relay, the young men from Russia took the title in the 17-18 400 free team event after just holding-off Germany with superior depth in 3:20.82. That includes 49-high splits from both Maksim Startcev and Aleksandr Popkov. Though the Russians got the title, it was Germany who had the most exciting swim en route to a 3:21.18 for silver. Their anchor Maximillian Oswald split a 48.98, which was the fastest of the whole field. By this time next year, he could find himself a spot on the German relay for the World Championships, especially if he continues to prove himself as a great relay swimmer (that time wouldn’t have been the slowest split on their finals 400 free relay, for example).
- Margarethe Hummel from Germany won the women’s 50 breaststroke in 31.55, which places her third in the German Rankings (and top-25 in the world) in 2012. That missed Yulia Efimova’s Meet Record by just a tenth.
- Mihael Vukic from Croatia won the men’s 50 fly in 23.96. That misses his personal best by just .06 seconds.
Full Meet Results available here.